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13 Jun 2024

Gaultier & Lincou Set Up All-French Super Series Finals Final

17 Mar 2009

Defending champion Gregory Gaultier will face former champion Thierry Lincou in an all-French final of the ATCO Super Series Finals after contrasting successes in the third and final round of pool matches in the flagship $110,000 PSA Tour squash event being staged for the first time at The Queen's Club in London.

It will be the first final between two fellow countrymen in the 16-year history of the event - and Gaultier, the world No3 from Aix-en-Provence, will be bidding to become the first player to successfully defend the prestigious title since England's Peter Nicol eight years ago.

Gaultier faced Egypt's world No1 Karim Darwish in the decider in the ATCO Group - both players hitherto unbeaten. But the title-holding Frenchman maintained his breathtaking form on the all-glass court at Queen's Club, recovering from a game down to beat the top seed 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 in 59 minutes.

"I gave my best you know," said Gaultier, now in his 33rd PSA Tour final. "Karim is world number one and it was so close. It was tough to lose the first game, and I just had to refocus."

It was the last match of the night between England's James Willstrop and 2004 champion Thierry Lincou which produced the identity of Gaultier's final opponent. With Lincou unbeaten in the Prince group, Willstrop needed a straight games win to ensure his place in the climax, whereas the Frenchman simply required a single game.

And the Yorkshireman's hopes of his first appearance in the event's final looked likely when he took a two-game lead against the world No8.

Willstrop was playing close to his best, despite having taken a heavy knock on the nose after only two points - an injury which necessitated a 15-minute break and left him knowing that more blood would cause the match to be awarded to his opponent.

Lincou came back with a vengeance in the third - leading 3-0 and 7-1 before clinching his all-important game to reduce the deficit. The 32-year-old from Marseille also took the fourth before Willstrop came back to win the match 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 3-11, 11-6 in 63 minutes of playing time.

In the earlier match in the Prince group, Egypt's former world number one Amr Shabana had brushed aside compatriot Ramy Ashour 11-9, 11-4, 11-2 in just 24 minutes - and this win gave the 29-year-old from Giza a superior games advantage over Willstrop, thus a place in the play-off for third place against fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish.

Meanwhile, in the first match of the evening, veteran Australian star David Palmer avoided the wooden spoon in defeating another Egyptian Wael El Hindi 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9.

3rd & final pool round:
ATCO Group
[6] David Palmer (AUS) bt [8] Wael El Hindi (EGY) 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9 (51m)
[4] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [1] Karim Darwish (EGY) 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (59m)
Prince Group
[2] Amr Shabana (EGY) bt [3] Ramy Ashour (EGY) 11-9, 11-4, 11-2 (24m)
[5] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [7] Thierry Lincou (FRA) 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 3-11, 11-6 (88m)